Laurene Powell Job’s Emerson Collective is back in the news. Two days after acquiring a majority stake in The Atlantic, the non-profit has participated in a funding round for Gimlet Media, a podcasting company. The $15 million round was led by the investment firm Stripes Group. Some of Gimlet’s shows include “StartUp,” about the funding of Gimlet, “Homecoming,” the company’s first fiction podcast, and my personal favorite “The Pitch,” a Shark Tank-esque investing podcast.
Emerson Collective and Graham Holdings, owners of rival podcast network Panoply, also joined in the round. “This investment is a gratifying validation that we are at the beginning of the second golden age of audio,” said Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, Gimlet Media’s co-founders.
There isn’t much money in podcasting, but Gimlet makes up roughly $15 million of an estimated $118 million industry. A PwC study, funded by Gimlet and other podcasting companies, estimates this number will jump 85% to $220 million this year.
Gimlet is looking at other ways to expand revenues as well. Gimlet’s very first podcast, “StartUp” is being turned into a single-camera sitcom on ABC called “Alex, Inc.” starring Zach Braff. “Homecoming,” about a secret government agency whose staff desperately wants to rejoin civilian life, has been given a two season order by Amazon Studios.
Tencent strikes again! Milky Tea Studios, a Liverpool-based game developer, has raised an undisclosed round from Tencent. The money is being used to hire more developers and to continue working on their upcoming game HyperBrawl Tournament, which is targeting PC and Switch.
Tencent has been making numerous moves in the gaming industry over the past three years. My comprehensive list can be found here, which will be updated for this latest bit of news.
Milky Tea had previously worked on Roller Rally, a mobile rollerskating game, but has turned their attention to consoles, the Switch in particular.
“This partnership marks a turning-point in Milky Tea’s history. The scale of it really hasn’t hit home just yet, but we are all really proud to be part of the Tencent family and we couldn’t ask for better partners,” said Milky Tea’s Founder and Managing Director, Jonathan Holmes.
“Everyone at Tencent has gone above and beyond our expectations to make this happen and from a personal point of view, it’s a dream come true.”
Today, a Hasbro source said they have ended their informal discussions to buy the Hollywood studio Lionsgate. This raises the question: Hasbro was in talks to acquire Lionsgate? The companies, through Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures, previously collaborated on My Little Pony: The Movie, the animated film starring Emily Blunt.
Apparently, the negotiations ended because of disagreements over price, a common deal killer. It’s not clear if any formal offer was made and discussions could always begin again. Hasbro has been in the market for a media company for awhile. The company previously made an offer for Dreamworks, before Disney intervened and killed the deal. Since, Hasbro has set up Allspark Pictures and acquired Boulder Media.
I am curious to see what company Hasbro might target next, but Lionsgate feels like a weird choice to me. After the success of Hunger Games and Twilight, recent fare such as Divergent has failed to make enough money for the studio. It just seems an odd combination to me. Add to the fact that Lionsgate owns Starz and I can’t see it fitting in with Hasbro’s family/kid friendly brands.
I feel a TV animation company such as DHX would be a better fit personally.